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Mental Health Outpatient vs. Inpatient Care

Suffering from a debilitating mental illness is a serious circumstance to address. However, finding the right treatment plan for that illness is just as serious. Choosing the right treatment plan can provide the necessary level of care that can help you or a loved one recover. There are two types of treatment plans to choose from. There is a mental health outpatient treatment plan and an inpatient treatment plan. While both of these plans have their benefits, it is important to understand the key differences between these options. Depending on the needs of the patient, one plan may be more appropriate than the other.

Outpatient Care

Mental health outpatient services that don’t require a patient to stay inside a facility for a long period of time is defined as outpatient care. Having an outpatient treatment plan means patients get the opportunity to learn to cope with potential distractions and stressors from an office. Then, they can go home and manage their mental health condition from there. Counseling, group therapy, and medical consultations are some of the possible components of this treatment plan. Patients can receive short-term counseling, or if they have a more severe condition they can have long-term care plans.One benefit of outpatient care is that patients have the freedom of being in a more loosely structured environment. For example, with an outpatient treatment plan, patients have the flexibility of attending treatment services during the day and then return home in the evening to be with family or friends.Couple in Outpatient Counseling-2Because of its flexibility, mental health outpatient treatment plans are best suited for people who have mild symptoms of mental illness or are in the early stages of addiction. Patients should only consider these kinds of plans if constant support is unnecessary and it is more beneficial to stay in their current environment and adjust to professional guidance.

Inpatient Care

Patients checking themselves into a mental health facility to receive direct care from medical professionals on a predetermined schedule is defined as inpatient care. Inpatient treatment plans revolve around medical and emotional support that is available at any time during the day. Inpatient care is ideal for those who can potentially harm themselves, those who have a history of relapses or those who are triggered by their living situations.Most inpatient treatment plans represent a higher level of care. But, the treatment is often disruptive and requires a complete commitment for the patient. This is due to the fact that they stay overnight and are in the facility all day. Patients must have inpatient treatment for anywhere from one week to several months. Inpatient treatment plans remove stressors in the confines of a safe and controlled environment. Here, strict schedules are in place to ensure consistent treatment. This environment emphasizes the understanding of rapid stabilization, developing strategies to avoid returning to the hospital and discharge planning.Inpatient treatment plans offer patients the chance to work on rebuilding life skills without being exposed to negative influences that could drive them to continue destructive behaviors. This kind of treatment can be a starting point for issues like self-harm, substance abuse and cases where outpatient care has failed.

Inpatient mental healthDifferences Between Outpatient and Inpatient

There are clear distinctions between someone receiving either outpatient or inpatient treatment. One distinction rests in whether or not the patient will stay overnight. Outpatient treatment plans allow patients the choice of returning home for the evening and put into practice what they are learning in the real world. In contrast, inpatient treatment plans restrict patients from going home as they have to stay overnight at the treatment facility, receiving full-time treatment.When it comes to financial considerations, inpatient care is clearly more expensive to afford compared to outpatient care. Inpatients have to pay more money for the extra care that they receive. This isn’t necessarily the case with outpatients as they only have to pay for having appointments and consultations. Additionally, one distinction between outpatient and inpatient care that many overlook is that both options heavily differ with insurance companies. These companies process and handle the billing for various mental health services. The type of medical insurance a patient has determines how much you will spend for care.Another determining factor is the length of time patients will spend inside treatment facilities for diagnostic tests. If patients stay for less than 24 hours inside facilities, they are in mental health outpatient classification. However, if they stay for more than 24 hours, they are then classified as inpatients.

Mental Health and Its Disorders

Emotional, psychological and social well-being all play a part in one’s mental health. How a person thinks, feels and acts are all impacted by mental health. The condition of one’s mental health also influences how one makes decisions, handles stress, and relates to other people. Mental health professionals often use documents like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to properly diagnose mental illnesses.Mental Health Outpatient Care-2According to DSM-5, some of the most common mental illnesses include bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. All of these disorders require either mental health outpatient or inpatient treatment. But, which treatment option a patient will experience depends on their situation.

Bipolar Disorder

Episodes of energetic, manic highs and extreme depressive lows characterize bipolar disorder. These mood swings can impact a person’s energy level and ability to think rationally. So, bipolar disorder can bring a big impact on someone’s everyday life without treatment.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) usually occurs after one experiences or witnesses an event that traumatizes them. These experiences can range from participating in war to physical or verbal abuse. Flashbacks and panicking very easily are symptoms of PTSD. For example, loud noises or large crowds can enable symptoms of this disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder enables constant and repetitive thoughts or obsessions in patients. Unnecessary and unreasonable desires to carry out specific behaviors or compulsions are the cause of these thoughts.

Warning Signs and Remaining Positive With Both Mental Health Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment

Determining whether someone needs an outpatient or an inpatient treatment plan depends on how that person handles the symptoms of their condition. If the warning signs appear to be too severe for that person to handle, inpatient care could be the more appropriate option. There are many warning signs of one suffering from mental health problems. These include eating or sleeping too much or too little. Additionally, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, yelling or infighting with family and friends or unexplained aches and pains.No matter how severe the warning signs are, it is important for the patient to remain positive. There are many ways for one to maintain positive mental health. Some methods include connecting and socializing with others, getting physically active, helping others in the form of charitable work, getting sufficient sleep and developing coping skills.With all of this being said, if you or a loved one are considering outpatient or inpatient care, contact a medical professional today for assistance.